Peter Speight is a freestyle park and pipe skier part of the British Ski and Snowboard team. Hailing from Sheffield in the UK, Peter grew up benefiting from the dry slope on his doorstep. Sadly, the dry slope was destroyed by fire, but there are plans afoot to regenerate the area, including the dry slope, hopefully restoring this fairly legendary training ground for future athletes. With this news cropping back up recently, we thought it would be a great opportunity to take a few minutes with Peter and see how his career as a professional freestyle skier is progressing.
Hey, Peter. Great to meet you. Earlier this year, you were selected for Team GB and had the chance to compete in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. That must have been incredible, but we would like to know how you got to this position, how your skiing career began?
In terms of competitive halfpipe skiing and the winter olympics, it really began with a choice I made at 17 to really chase skiing and put everything into it. Before this I had grown up skiing at the Sheffield Ski Dry ski slope through my teenage years. I found I loved the sport. I always knew it was going to be tough to compete and improve enough to get anywhere in a sport that wasn’t natural to living in the UK, but that was part of the challenge! From 17 to now it’s really been an incredible journey and the number one thing in getting to the Olympics this year was just sticking at it for so long!
The hard work and determination payed off though! Growing up close to the Sheffield slope and learning your skills there, were you sad to see it disappear in the fire years ago? Are you excited to see it return with the redevelopment plans?
Yeah it was a sad thing to see. But at the same time I’m lucky enough to have already benefited from riding there through my teens and there are other amazing slopes in the UK still going. I don’t think you can rekindle the past, but in terms of redevelopment there’s an amazing legacy to build on, so if it begins to go ahead I’m excited to see because there’s amazing potential!
It is exciting to see what can be made of it, we agree. This year you got selected to be part of Team GB, what did it feel like being selected to compete for your country? We imagine it feels pretty special to know you will be competing for your country on the world sporting stage!
Yeah it was brilliant. I knew it would be an incredible experience but it actually surpassed my expectations. I think all the things around the competition when your actually there just make it unlike anything else you have done. Competing as part of a team is actually something quite alien to us free skiers as it’s an individual sport. The Olympics only came into our sport in 2014 so it’s relatively new as well. It’s something I never thought I would do so it was really special and meant a lot.
Pyeongchang looked incredible to be a part of, and there seemed to be great support between the Team GB athletes, many going to support and see their teammates compete. Was this how it felt out there? How did you find it being one of the new athletes?
Yeah it was great vibes. One of the coolest things is that you meet loads of athletes outside your sport both in and out of Team GB so it’s just positive vibes around the village. I watched quite a few other events like ice hockey, curling and skating which was really cool.
It sounds like it was a great place to be. Though some didn’t make it through to competition through injury, which is a shame. Like those athletes, you have experienced injuries during your career. How have you dealt with these injuries you have sustained so far? How did you find it affected you and your ability, both physically and mentally, to push through recovery and compete again?
Yeah injuries are a massive part of our sport and sport in general. They definitely get tougher to overcome as you get older as well. I had some big periods of injury through my skiing years and it was definitely tough to come back from. The biggest positive is that you learn a lot about yourself and mentally it gives opportunity to learn and develop both from a sporting sense but also from a mindfulness point of view. When your knocked down you learn what sort of person you are.
That’s very true. Getting knocked down is hard, but getting back up is even harder. It proves your strength if you can do it and then go on to be better than before. Not only have you had to deal with those injuries, but you have also been through University while being on the world skiing circuit. How did you find managing the mixture of student life and international sports athlete?
It was one of those things that was extremely challenging to juggle but the rewards were so high. It’s something I wanted to do and it also gave me another focus in my life which I think is really important for sportspeople to have that distraction. It was great to be at uni with all my mates there at the same time too. It was a very hectic time but I put everything into it and in the end I was able to get the rewards across the board!
Well congrats on the grades, it proves that hard work is key! The next ski season is nearly upon us, (we’re very excited!). What are your plans for this season? Are you currently training for any competitions?
This season I’m doing more of my own thing. I mentioned above the benefit of having multiple things going on in your life and after 2 years of full time skiing in the build up to PY I’m now going to mix things up again. I’m currently living in London and won’t be skiing again until January. I’m aiming for a couple of world cups towards the end of the winter and before that I’m going to work on other areas of my skiing, hopefully do some filming and some backcountry!
Wow, that sounds amazing. We’d love to learn more about backcountry skiing. With multiple facets to your life, what advice would you give to someone who is thinking about taking up skiing for the first time?
Yeah give it a go! Its an amazing sport with lots of different elements that make it exciting. If you like thrills and want something a bit different then it’s definitely for you. If you have literally never skied before, I’d get into some UK slopes and have some lessons before you spend lots of money heading abroad. Dry slopes are cheaper and your outdoors so I always say there a good place to start out on in the UK!
Peter is sponsored by Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports, one of the UK’s leading outdoor and snow sports retailers. You can find out more about Peter on his Twitter, Instagram and on the British Ski and Snowboard website.